Updated: Nov 28, 2020
Cast iron pans are low maintenance once you get the hang of them.
Here are benefits we have noticed:
Flavour retention- the pan has pores that open and close with heat, this captures flavour and aroma. A simple meal can hold flavour profiles from past delicious meals.
Temperature control- the pan disperses heat throughout food evenly, it can also hold heat on a low temperature.
Nutrition improvement- cast iron pans cook iron into our meals.
Versatility- we start with a simple sear or stir-fry on top of the stove and then have the option to bake or roast just by popping the whole pan into the oven. Just be careful taking the pan out because the handle will be scolding hot!!!
Whether you have a new cast iron pan or you're looking for a fresh start for a pan you mucked up.. here are some tips:
Cast iron pan
Strong oil- we use lard, tallow or a scoop from our container of drippings. Coconut oil would be a good plant-based oil.
A strong saturated fat oil is best to ensure you don't get damaged oil on your pan. Using an oil better suited for lower temperatures will run the risk of cooking trans fat into your food. When an oil has a double bond break, due to high heat for example, it can become trans fat. If you are unsure what I mean by that, check out my post about healthy oils here.
Scrape your pan clean with a flat metal spatula to remove all debris. I like to first heat the pan to high heat and burn off excess stuck to the pan, this will make scraping easier.
Move into the sink and scrub the entire pan (both sides and handle) with warm water and a scrubbie / cloth. Do not use soap- this can lead to the pan rusting prematurely. Oil is what keeps the pan clean. If you have to use soap, use a natural oil-based soap.
Dry the pan with a cloth.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Place the pan on the stove top and use a low heat to evaporate the excess water.
Once the pan is dry take a cloth or use your hand (wait until pan cools), and rub the entire pan with oil.
Be sure to oil the edges, handle and outside.
The oven should be preheated, place the pan inside on a middle rack to bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes carefully remove the pan from the oven using an oven mitt.
Allow for the pan to cool and then you are ready to get rolling on your first meal!!!
The process above is not needed after every meal, only when the pan is a mess- and some meals may cause this more than others, a.k.a. saucey meals, soups, etc.
Generally simple fry-ups, re-heats and stir-fries can be scraped clean and the flavours recycled for multiple meals.
Tips for cooking with a cast iron pan:
Manage the oil levels in the pan. Have a container to drain excess oil, this also comes in handy for when the pan is looking dry. If you are running low on drippings, bacon is a good one to replenish that!
Scrape clean as you cook and after you serve the meal.
For a quick clean: do a simple wipe down with a damp cloth, use heat to evaporate excess water while at the same time use the cloth rub some oil in. This seals the pores for a healthy pan.
View the pan as a versatile piece of equipment, it can be used for pretty much any type of cooking and also great for cooking on an open flame!